University’s 2019 DEI Summit to focus on capacity building


The University of Michigan’s 2019 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit begins Oct. 7 and will highlight the university’s robust, multiyear and multifaceted commitment to sustaining and improving a welcoming, diverse and inclusive campus environment.

This year, the summit will span a full month and include a number of interactive workshops, panels and networking opportunities as well as the recognition of diversity leaders at U-M.

“Our annual summit includes a month’s worth of outstanding activities that allow us to examine and consider important ideas and perspectives, while honoring the work of hundreds of members of the Michigan family who have led our university’s progress in diversity, equity and inclusion,” said President Mark Schlissel.

By adding programming and spreading the summit out over a month, DEI organizers said the new format invites greater participation and accommodates different schedules.

“The DEI summit provides participants with an opportunity to take an active role in developing an inclusive culture at U-M by engaging in positive dialogue and creating environments where all points of view are shared, heard and respected,” said Rob Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer.

Watch this video preview of the 2019 DEI Summit.

Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, political commentator and host of “Redemption Project” and “The Van Jones Show” on CNN, will keynote the opening event — a community assembly discussion. His remarks will focus on the power of diversity and aspiring to understand how to be more embracing of diverse perspectives.

Jones, who describes himself as a progressive activist, has a record of working across political party lines and challenging voters and cable news viewers to stand in one another’s shoes and disagree constructively.

As founder and co-founder of a number of nonprofits, including #cut50, a bipartisan initiative that seeks to reduce the U.S. prison population, Jones has worked to facilitate relationships between leaders from both political parties, tech entrepreneurs and criminal justice activists to identify solutions to mass incarceration and effective alternative sentencing programs.

He was a vocal supporter and advocate of the First Steps Acts, a bill signed into law by President Donald Trump that is intended to improve conditions for federal prisoners. The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, and Doug Collins, R-Georgia, and also received support from a wide array of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Koch brothers.  

Following Jones’ address he will be joined by Ashley Lucas, an associate professor in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, LSA and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design; Ethriam Brammer, assistant dean in the Rackham Graduate School and DEI implementation lead; and Dim Mang, a U-M student studying political science and history, for a moderated panel discussion.

Panel members will share their experiences leading social change efforts, building coalitions across difference, and their reflections on DEI work from their respective vantage points.

The conversation will be moderated by Derrick Darby, professor of philosophy, LSA.

Strategic report outcomes

Year-three progress and outcomes of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Five-Year Strategic Plan will take center focus during the Community Conversation: DEI Progress Update hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Sellers will present specifics from the report, including accomplishments regarding DEI skill building, and new and expanded community supports, as well as answer questions and receive feedback from community stakeholders.

The conversation will take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Michigan League Ballroom. 

Featured events

Other central DEI events scheduled during the summit include a student-designed and driven workshop at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 in the Trotter Multicultural Center.

The event will follow a Design Thinking approach where students spanning multiple and intersecting identity groups will facilitate dialogue to reflect on realities and generate ideas around transparency, inclusivity, communication and engagement with DEI initiatives on campus, including within Student Life.

Disability culture in higher education will be discussed at an Oct. 21 event co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Council for Disability Concerns, National Center for Institutional Diversity and Voices of Staff. The panel discussion will take place at noon in the Rackham Assembly Hall.

The discussion titled “An Ingenious Way to Live: Fostering Disability Culture in Higher Education,” scholars and practitioners will talk about opportunities for ingenuity as a growing number of higher education institutions shift toward an intersectional cultural model of disability.

Preventing all forms of sexual and gender-based misconduct remains a top priority at U-M. The Office of Organizational Learning will host the discussion titled “From #MeToo to #NowWhat: Cultivating Safe, Harassment-Free Learning and Working Environments” at noon Oct. 23 in the Michigan League Ballroom.

The intended purpose of the event is to provide a summary of the work done at U-M in the past 18 months, why it matters and how it complements the university’s DEI efforts. The goal is to also inform participants how to make the shift from education and training to transformational cultural change. 

Campus climate and mental health among young adults and students of color will be discussed during a full-day event titled “Young, Gifted, @Risk, & Resilient.”

Hosted by NCID, ODEI and The Steve Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color, the event will take place at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 24 in the Michigan League.

All events are free and open to the public.


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